In an effort to meet the No Child Left Behind Act requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Education, the state of Florida has set forth guidelines for all paraprofessionals. To become and remain a paraprofessional, many requirements have to be met, including testing and continual evaluations. Paraprofessionals can work in a variety of education settings and at various levels depending on a county's needs.
Definition of Paraprofessional
According to the No Child Left Behind Act, a paraprofessional is one who provides assistance and instructional support in a Title I school. A Title I school is defined as a school that receives funding to help reduce the gap between the different levels of family incomes.
A paraprofessional can only work under direct supervision of a certified teacher who plans out her daily duties, who is continually evaluating her performance and is working in close proximity to the teacher.
Roles of a Paraprofessional
Teaching paraprofessionals assist in the instruction of math, reading and writing. Through guidance and supervision of the certified teacher, the paraprofessional can focus on helping students who need a little more attention and help in these areas than the rest of the class.
A non-instructional paraprofessional’s role may include personal care services, parental involvement activities, food service, playground and cafeteria supervision, clerical duties, non-instructional computer assistance, non-instructional media center, and library supervision and translation.
Paraprofessionals need to meet three different requirements to receive certification. These requirements are for every paraprofessional working in a Title I school, regardless of hire date.
The requirements are: receipt of an associate degree (discipline doesn't matter); two years of college attendance; or demonstration, through a local academic assessment, of the ability to assist in the instruction of reading, writing and math.
Florida Accepted Assessments
There are only a few assessments accepted to become a certified paraprofessional in the state of Florida. Certification can be earned with a passing grade on the Educational Testing Service Praxis Parapro Assessment or the College Level Academic Skills Test (CLAST).
The Florida Teacher Certification Examination, General Knowledge Test qualifies if the exam was passed after July 1, 2002. The Educational Testing Service Praxis I: Academic Skills with passing scores prior to July 1, 2002, is also accepted.
The Paraprofessional Exam
The paraprofessional exam consists of 90 questions, with two-thirds of the questions based on basic knowledge and skills and one-third of the questions focusing on classroom techniques.
The test is generally administered online, but a paper version is still available through the Educational Testing Service, as of 2010.
Paraprofessional preparation courses are available through local colleges and universities.
Educational Testing Service ETS – The Praxis Service P.O. Box 6051 Princeton, NJ 08541-6051 800-772-9476 ETS.org/parapro
Heather Leigh Landon has been a writer since 1988 when she started her career as a stringer for "The McHenry Star News." Since then she has worked for newspapers such as "The Woodstock Independent," "The Northwest Herald" and "Press Journal." Landon graduated from William Rainey Harper College with an Associate of Applied Science in journalism.